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Halifax’s spectacular Seaport Farmers’ Market is among recent permanent markets to spring up. The green roof features 10 different species of red and green sedum. Four rooftop micro turbines generate electricity. (James Ingram/Lydon Lynch Architects)
Halifax’s spectacular Seaport Farmers’ Market is among recent permanent markets to spring up. The green roof features 10 different species of red and green sedum. Four rooftop micro turbines generate electricity. (James Ingram/Lydon Lynch Architects)


Upscale farmers' markets springing up Add to ...

“We’ve had lots of support but we really put our big boy pants on with this project and there’s still lots of things we’ve got to learn,” Mr. de Waal said. “We’re figuring out how to give Halifax the market it wants.”

To increase traffic flow during the week, the board is working with Project for Public Spaces, a New York City non-profit that specializes in creating and improving markets and other public spaces.

In Grand Rapids, the idea for a new version of the Fulton Street Market emerged during neighbourhood plan discussions. The existing market was founded in 1922 and now consists of a concrete pad on which 70 to 80 vendors sell from a makeshift setup using trucks and tarps, said Ted Lott, of Lott3Metz Architecture.

The new covered market and public plaza will cost about $3-million to build and is scheduled to open at a site about two and half kilometres from downtown Grand Rapids near residential neighbourhoods.

“Farmers are excited to have a permanent shed where they can operate year round,” Mr. Lott said. “I think they’d all had enough of tarps full of rain collapsing on them.”

“One of the unintended consequences was that farmers began thinking about the new building and they wanted to extend their season,” he said. Vendors who normally stopped selling around the beginning of October began thinking about what they planted, how they stored produce and using greenhouses so they could sell longer.

“They were very ingenious and it will mean the city will have a better selection of fresh, local produce year round,” said Mr. Lott, who first started going to the market as a child with his mother. In turn, the local food movement has also been an important support to the development of the new market, he said.

“That focus on locally grown food has certainly benefited their [the farmers’] growth over the past few years and the project would have had a much tougher road had that ethic not risen up. It certainly helped with fund raising, too.”

The market will open in May and it already has a waiting list of vendors eager to rent space. For now, it seems the demand for farmers’ markets continues to be strong.

Some remarkable farmers' markets

Granville Island Market, Vancouver

Vibrant island with food market, art shops, restaurants, brewery, theatre, hotel and an art college. The market is built near the spot where the city’s first covered market opened in 1908 in a grand building with two bell towers.

Highlight: Fresh seafood.

Open: Year round, seven days/week.

Saskatoon Farmers’ Market

Opened in 2007 as an anchor building in the redevelopment of prime riverfront property called River Landing, in downtown Saskatoon.

Highlight: Fresh Saskatoon berries in season.

Open: Year round, Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday, some shops open seven days a week.

Jean-Talon Market, Montreal

One of North America’s largest open-air markets.

Highlight: Named for the French governor who sought to shift the colony’s economic base in the mid-1600s from fur trading to agriculture by encouraging settlement and bringing the filles de roi.

Open: Year round, seven days/week.

St. Lawrence Market, Toronto

The historic South Market is built around one of Toronto’s first town halls and contains remnants of prison cells from the early 1800s. The North Building, opened in the 1960s, houses a traditional farmers market and flea market on weekends.

Highlight: Plans are under way to replace the north building with a four-storey steel and glass structure housing court rooms and administrative offices on floors above the public market.

Open: Year round South Building: Tuesday-Saturday; North Building: Farmers market – Saturday, Antiques market – Sunday.

Guelph Farmers’ Market

Today’s market sits in the middle of Market Square, the spot where the city’s first land was cleared.

Highlight: The only building included in the John Galt’s first plan for the city in 1827. Mr. Galt wanted a market built to sell local produce and to raise the price of surrounding land owned by his Canada Company.

Open: Saturdays 7 a.m.-noon.

Covent Garden Market, London, Ont.

Named after London, England’s famous West End farmers market, now home to the Royal Opera House, of the same name, and a popular tourist area. In the musical My Fair Lady, cockney flower seller Eliza Doolittle meets Professor Henry Higgins in a chance encounter outside Covent Garden. In Ontario, London’s original farmers’ market was once at the heart of the city but the downtown core has now shifted several blocks away.

Highlight: Today’s farmers’ market opened in 1999 on the site of the original 1853 covered farmers’ market and public square.

Open: Covered market building – year round, seven days/week. Outdoor farmers’ market – Thursday and Saturday, May to December, weather permitting.

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